Polyphia is not only the biggest, but also the best metal band in the world. No other act has managed to marry a masterful command of melody with hip hop rhythms and dark and sinister tones in such an enticing way – and they’ve done so without the crutch of sing-along vocals. In challenging the generally accepted constant that dark and technical music has to be atonal and undanceable, the four members of Polyphia have done their part to advance the world of instrumental rock in a manner that has seldom been matched in the history of the genre.
On the band’s greatly anticipated new full-length, New Levels New Devils, Polyphia have taken yet another defiant leap forward. The band has made a conscious effort to replace distorted guitars and epic breakdowns with a soundscape of bass-heavy trap music, which guitarists Tim Henson and Scott LePage explore with their virtuosic guitarwork. While a lot of the beats originated in the studio and utilize techniques usually associated with hip hop production, Polyphia’s formidable rhythm section of Clay Gober and Clay Aeschliman did a remarkable job of recreating them on bass and drums respectively. This gave the album a more organic quality that allowed them to achieve a high degree of cohesiveness, despite having worked with a handful of top-tier producers in studios ranging from Los Angeles to their hometown of Dallas, Texas.
On New Levels New Devils, the band meticulously chose their collaborators to ensure that each guest appearance would work towards helping make it the best effort of Polyphia’s career. This elite cast of collaborators includes producers such as Y2K (Killy, Yung Bans) and Judge (Migos & Marshmello, blackbear, Young Thug). It also includes a collection of guitarists such as Jason Richardson, Ichika, Mateus Asato, Yvette Young (of Covet) and Erick Hansel and Mario Camarena (both of CHON) that share space at the pinnacle of the guitar world with Henson and LePage. Finally, the lone vocal feature comes courtesy of hip hop phenom – and long time Polyphia fan – Cuco, who has captivated tastemakers over the past year with his lyrical prowess and unique style.
As has come to be expected of Polyphia, New Levels New Devils is as diverse as it is ambitious. On the sizzurp-infused funk metal of “Yas”, the band delivers exactly the sort of otherworldly guitar licks you would imagine from a Polyphia and CHON collaboration. On the Y2K and Judge produced “O.D.”, the band takes us on a rafting trip through the cerebrospinal fluid that flows maniacally through the brain of an evil genius. On “So Strange”, the band teams with Cuco to create a track that references an uncanny amount of the best elements of popular music released over the last 40 years. The track that is perhaps best suited to explain the record, though, is lead single “G.O.A.T” – an innovative anthem that floats from movement to movement in a way that only a band as adept at composition as Polyphia could pull off. “G.O.A.T” has been a highlight of the band’s set on their recent tour with CHON, transforming the pit into an epic wall of death that quickly dissolves into a dance party.
The level of innovation exhibited on New Levels New Devils is nothing new for Polyphia. Their previous EP – 2017’s The Most Hated – explored the potential intersections between electronic dance music and pioneering guitar rock in a way that had never been attempted before. Upon its release on Equal Vision Records, it went on to reach #6 on the Billboard “Independent Label Release” charts and cracked the top ten for the “Current Rock” charts. It would even showcase the band’s crossover appeal by hitting #41 on the “Top 200” and #36 on the “Top Current Albums” charts across all genres. Still, one listen through New Levels New Devils will leave the listener certain the band will crush those numbers this time around.
New Levels New Devils was released October 12, 2018 on Equal Vision Records. Once the world gets a hold of it, there is little doubt the concept of ‘popular music’ will dramatically change for the better.